Congratulations to the 39 talented dancers just named 2020 YoungArts award winners! This year's group of awardees includes several familiar faces from the competition scene.


YoungArts awards—given annually to teenage students in the visual, literary, and performing arts, at three different levels (Finalist, Honorable Mention, and Merit)—are a very big deal. Winners are selected by panels of A-list professionals in their respective fields, and gain access to all kinds of support for their creative work. Awardees in the Finalist category receive up to $10,000 in prizes; are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week, which features all kinds of master classes and workshops, each January; and might be nominated to become U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Here are the 2020 dance winners (we've but the ballet winners in bold.) You can find a complete list of awardees—and information about when to apply for next year's competition, an option you should definitely consider—at the YoungArts website.

FINALIST

Tomoe Carr, Hip Hop
High Tech High School, Secaucus, NJ

Rush Carson, Choreography
New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL

Nicholas Khoa Dao, Modern/Contemporary
Willow Glen High School, San Jose, CA

Emanuel Dostine, Modern/Contemporary
Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy, Manistee, MI

Joziah German, Modern/Contemporary
Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, TX

Andre Imanishi, Tap
The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology, New York, NY

Jacqueline Jankovsky, Modern/Contemporary
Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, TX

Nouhoum Koita, Modern/Contemporary
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York, NY

Claire Lucas, Modern/Contemporary
Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, CA

Aidan Lynch, Hip Hop
Christ Presbyterian Academy, Nashville, TN

Lucas Marinetto, Tap
University of Nebraska High School, Lincoln, NE

Lindy Mesmer, Ballet
Laurel Springs School, Ojai, CA

Keara Nichols, Ballet
Cabrillo Point Academy, El Cajon, CA

Amelie Or, Tap
Oak Ridge High School, El Dorado Hills, CA

Tyrone Reese, Ballet
W. P. Davidson High School, Mobile, AL

Sydney Revennaugh, Modern/Contemporary
Marion High School, Marion, IN

Alina Taratorin, Ballet
Palo Alto Senior High School, Palo Alto, CA

Kailey Worontsoff, Modern/Contemporary
Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

HONORABLE MENTION

Maya Alvarez-Coyne, World Dance/Irish Step
Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, CA

Atticus Dobbie, Modern/Contemporary
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York, NY

Ashton Edwards, Ballet
Flint Southwestern Classical Academy, Flint, M
I

Aydin Eyikan, Jazz
The Keystone School, Bloomsburg, PA

Brenan Gonzalez, Modern/Contemporary
Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

Krupa Hegde, World Dance/Classical Indian
The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, Bowling Green, KY

Irene Kim, Modern/Contemporary
Crean Lutheran High School, Irvine, CA

Janiya Pearson, World Dance/African
Professional Performing Arts School, New York, NY

Arya Pratap, World Dance/Classical Indian
Saint Francis High School, Mountain View, CA

MERIT

Deven Ayambem, Hip Hop

Downingtown STEM Academy, Downingtown, PA

Joseph Boswell, Ballet
James Madison High School, Norcross, GA

Victoria Chapa, World Dance/Mexican Folkloric
Valley View High School, Pharr, TX

Angelina Diaz, Choreography
Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Beach, FL

Jau'mair Garland, Modern/Contemporary
Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts, Pittsburgh, PA

Rosie Granito, Choreography
Denver School of the Arts, Denver, CO

Shashank Iswara, World Dance/Classical Indian
Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound, TX

Demetrius Lee, Modern/Contemporary
Cleveland School of the Arts, Cleveland, OH

Francesca Levita, Modern/Contemporary
Saint Charles North High School, Saint Charles, IL

Jeremiah Moorehead, Modern/Contemporary
Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Jacksonville, FL

Julian Sanchez, Modern/Contemporary
New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL

Nyoka Wotorson, Modern/Contemporary
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, New York, NY

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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